Specialized S-Works Road Shoes
Specialized has completey redesigned their top range shoe to create their lightest and stiffest Body Geometry shoe which they say features an unprecedented fit, comfort, and efficiency for high end racers. Features include:
- Full Body Geometry features in outsole and SL Footbeds combine to reduce hot spots and improve knee/foot alignment.
- New replaceable Boa® S2 Snap allows on-thefl y adjustments for a dynamic fit with stainless steel braided lace.
- Two Boa® dials optimises comfort: Top dial locks the ankle and heel down, while the other dial snugs the arch and forefoot
- Minimalist designed upper with adaptive fit is lightweight, durable and brings a superior supple fit
- Open-back lace guides for easy on/off
- Replaceable heel lugs with internally recessed bolts for safety
- 3-bolt cleat pattern fits Shimano SPD-SL, Look, Time, and Speedplay
- Approximate weight: 210g (per shoe, size 42)
RRP: $450 AUD
The first thing you’ll notice when taking these shoes out of the box is how light they are. A size 42 weighs 210 grams and you immediately know they’re something special just by touching the various materials and textures. The shoe slides on like a slipper. The first few rides took a bit of breaking in, but after the tongue started loosening up they became very comfortable. The standard footbeds that come with the shoe are nearly as good as my custom made footbeds.
I was hesitant to make the switch to the “Boa” adjustment dials compared to the ratchet systems I’ve used for years. After giving them a try, I was thoroughly impressed on many different levels The only thing that took some getting used to with the adjustment dials is that they make getting the shoes on and off slightly more difficult. A ratchet and/or velcro straps enable the shoe to freely open as wide as it can while the Boa wires never come completely undone. (Update: I just found out that the Boa wires can come completely out of their hooks to make for wider opening when getting the shoes on and off.) It’s a very small complaint that I had about my first set of S-Works shoes that’s quickly passed and I don’t even notice it anymore. I can see an improvement with Boa adjustment dial over the previous generation of S-Works shoes. The adjustment steps are smaller which allows you to fine tune the tightness better. They’re also made of a nice feeling rubber instead of hard plastic which gives much better grip.
Bolle Vortex Sunglass
The Bollé story began in a small town in France in 1888. There Seraphim Bollé started his company by first manufacturing combs and hair ornaments for the boxwood and horn indigenous to the region. Later after WWII they began molding high standard nylon and they created the famous ‘cat-eye’ sunglass. In 1960, ski goggles were first marketed by Bollé where they became one of the world’s most prominent manufacturers of premium eyewear.
Bollé has developed their “Cycling Ultimate” range, which offers cutting-edge technology that combines high-tech lenses and optimal frame design (adjustable nosepads, vented frames, optical clip, etc…). Bollé B-Clear lenses are based on a Trivex NXT™ structure for excelelnt optical quality and light weight. Offering similar quality of vision to mineral glass, the Bollé B-Clear lens is 75% lighter (and 10% lighter than a polycarbonate lens), and brings with it maximum resistance to impact. The lens also offers hydrophobic (so that drops of water fly away), and oleophobic (to fend off dirt) coatings. More than a simple coating, Bollé photochromic technology is actually integrated into the lens material at molecular level:
- The glass lightens or darkens according to light intensity.
- No need to change lenses during your ride, they automatically adapt to the conditions.
- With perfect protection, your eyes are no longer inconvenienced by harmful UV rays.
RRP: $200 AUD
We haven’t seen much of Bollé in the cycling scene since the 1980’s and 90’s when their eyewear were worn by the likes of Miguel Indurain, Pedro Delgado, Alex Zülle, Laurent Jalabert. This January they announced their sponsorship of Orica-GreenEDGE men’s and women’s teams for the next two years and they’re back in the game.
I went to the GreenEDGE launch and received these Vortex sunglasses as a gift. There were many colors to choose from but I chose flouro yellow which matches my kit perfectly. They’re light, comfortable, and what I like most of all are the crystal clear photochromic lenses. They start off with no tint early in the morning, and by the time I’m at the cafe they’re completely dark. They’ve been perfect in all light conditions and I don’t even notice them changing.
Specialized S-Works Turbo Competition Tyres
Made for competitive road riders who need a fast, light, and tough tire. Low rolling resistance and excellent cornering traction lets you climb easily, descend quickly, and corner aggressively.
- Casing: 220 TPI
- Bead: Foldable
- Center Compound: 65a / Shoulder Compound: 55a
- Flat Protection: BlackBelt
- 700 x 21; psi 115-125; approx. weight 180g
- 700 x 23; psi 115-125; approx. weight 185g
RRP: $99 AUD
If you were familiar with the last generation of S-Works Turbo Competition tyres, the first thing you’ll notice is that these new models have a tread pattern whereas the old tyres were completely bare. The high thread count and quality of the rubber makes you feel like you’re riding a new set of wheels after installing a fresh pair of these tyres. The tyres I’m riding are a 700x24c which are obviously slightly wider than the 23c and have a very smooth feel and hum along beautifully at 90psi. I’ve only put 1000kms on these tyres and they’re wearing quite evenly, but as you’ll know, a high performance tyre doesn’t always last very long. I’m yet to see how long these will last, but will update this post when I find out.
I cannot independently verify claims of rolling resistance or cornering ability, however Specialized is basing that claim on data from independent wheel and tire test facility Wheel Energy in Finland. You can see their charts which verify this claim here.
There was a lot of hype build up around Tony Martin using the Specialized Turbo Competition tyres at the 2013 Tour de France and before you say anything, yes, it was a disaster. The current world time trial champion punctured on both the prologue and the first ITT. However, by all accounts Martin would have punctured no matter what type of clincher he was using. Read more about this on Bike Radar.
Praxis Cold Forged Chain Rings
Praxis Works specialises in aftermarket chainrings to suit most popular cranks. What could possibly be the big deal about chainrings? Their point of difference lies in their manufacturing process as they cold forge their chainrings. Cold forging allows them to manipulate the ring shape and tooth profile more than ever before. With their “One-Shot” forging we are able to increase the amount of shifting features on a chainring which normal CNC manufacturing won’t allow. The process also creates a harder and tougher surface for durability. Individual tooth profiles, alternating tooth angles, timed ramps and tactically placed shift elevators are all jam packed onto a Praxis ring. Translation: All of these small aggregate features add up to the most durable and consistent shifting rings ever produced for cyclists.
RRP: $170 AUD per 2-ring set
I have to be honest, I did not find a significant difference in shifting with these rings after going from my current setup with Dura Ace 7900 rings & cranks and Di2 shifting. My Dura Ace with electronic shifting is superbe with either set-up. When I ask around however, many people swear by their Praxis rings who upgrade from other chainrings along with a Shimano, or KMC chain. The other advantage I can find is that they’re about half the cost of many other chainrings and if weight is important to you, they’re only 118 grams a pair (some of the lightest on the market).
Assos T FI.13_S5 Bibshorts
The T FI.13_S5 is a high performance bibshort that Assos describes as “the world’s technological leader.” These shorts feature 6-panel construction and a racing cut. A new insert made of high-density memory foam provides the padding and extra stitching is employed to hold it in place and ensure that it follows the movement of the pelvis at all times. The Lycra is a mix of polyamide and elastane with a dash (3%) of carbon fiber that has been designed for warmer weather. In addition, different weaves are employed from panel to panel that vary in the amount of venting, compression, and resilience for maximum effect. For example, the panels on the outside of the thighs provide more venting than the inner thighs where the weave offers less stretch and is more resilient. These shorts benefit from a reduction in both weight and volume when compared to Assos’ S2 shorts and a back panel made out of an anti-static mesh has been added that resists grabbing the fabric of the jersey. Reflective visibility strips are included in the seams of the legs and are cuffed with elastic grippers. The T FI.13_S5 shorts are available in 6 sizes and a choice of two colours: black or white.
For more information, visit Assos.
The last pair of Assos shorts I reviewed for Cycling Tips was their T FI.Mille_S5 bibs, which I found offered a relaxed fit that didn’t quite suit me and I complained about seams that were itchy, leg elastics that were ineffective, and the fabric bunching in the crotch. The T FI.13_S5 shorts offer a very different fit–the Lycra is firmer and the cut less generous–so that I experienced none of the issues that troubled the Mille shorts. Indeed, the difference was so marked, I might have suspected they were different brands were it not for the tell-tale turquoise (Assos calls this colour klinik) of the padding and back panel. The padding is not as luxuriously thick as that found in the Mille shorts, but it was very comfortable and I never found it lacking. The leg grippers were effective too, but I have to wonder if elastic will soon go the same way as threaded headsets (if only because the latest revisions on this idea by other manufacturers make for a cleaner design). Regardless, the T FI.13_S5 shorts performed beautifully from the very first moment I pulled them on and I’ll be looking forward to riding in them for some time to come.
A broken spoke often puts an end to a ride because most riders are ill equipped to contend with a repair. Mostly, it’s impractical to carry spare spokes unless you’re packing a bag for a touring trip, and even then, they can be a hassle to store (and find, should you need them). Add to that the necessity for different lengths (front versus rear, and drive-side versus non-drive-side), and most riders prefer to take the risk. The FiberFix Spoke kit provides all the gear you need to repair a broken spoke in a capsule that is smaller than most multi-tools. Rather than metal, this “spoke” is a Kevlar cord that is looped through the hub (where the broken spoke was) and tensioned with a sliding cam that attaches to the spoke nipple. Once fitted, the FibreFix spoke can be tensioned like a regular spoke to true the wheel.
RRP: $20 for the kit that includes the FiberFix spoke, spare nipple, and a spoke key, plus detailed instructions.
This emergency spoke is a great idea that is executed quite well. I spent over an hour experimenting with the spoke on a couple of different wheels and it does work, but with some limitations. The sliding cam is very effective at locking the cord, but it doesn’t allow for much adjustment before it locks down. That means you have to rely on the spoke nipple to take up the slack, which is considerable (the cord has some stretch in it), before it starts to pull on the rim. I found I could get a better result by adjusting the tension on the cord before threading the cam into the spoke nipple but it was trickier this way. Once tensioned though, I managed to get the test wheels within 2-3mm of true without touching the opposing spokes, a pretty good result for an emergency replacement, and more than enough to get the bike rolling again. I expect the FibreFix spoke will be easier to use on wheels with a high spoke count (eg 32 or 36 spokes) than wheels with a low spoke count since less tension will be required to true the wheel (the test wheels had 24 spokes or less). I also experimented with replacing a straight-pull spoke with some success–in this instance I wrapped the cord around nearby spokes rather than through the hub–however it was more difficult to get a lot of tension on the cord, and therefore I had less success truing the wheel. It’s worth noting that the cord started to fray after threading it several times and needed to be cut before it could be threaded through a hub again, a simple operation that might defeat a stranded rider that doesn’t happen to be carrying a pair of scissors or a knife. Ultimately, this is a product best suited to riders that have a measure of experience with replacing broken spokes as the uninitiated may be defeated by some of the finer points for its effective installation.
Busyman Bicycles Custom Leather Bar Tape
Regular readers will be familiar with Busyman Bicycles and their custom leather handlebar tape however I’ll go over the pertinent details to save you looking. The Busyman, Mick Peel, has a background in textiles and fashion and recently turned his talents to crafting leather upholstery for bikes. Customers can order leather bar tape in a variety of base colours (black, white, natural, shades of antique brown and grey, with red promised soon) with a choice between cow and kangaroo leather, though the latter is better suited to saddles. The tape can be decorated with stitching and/or perforations in a variety of styles (see the figure below for the options on offer), the final choice is up to you. A backing strip is used to add a little extra padding to the tape and it can be coloured to add contrast to any perforations. The final price depends on the amount of customisation, and there is a lead-time of approximately 2 months. BYO bar plugs and electrical tape to finish off the job.
RRP: Two rolls of tape will cost $120-170.
For more information, visit Busyman’s blog.
I can’t be certain, but Busyman Bicycles may be the only business in the entire world that offers bespoke handlebar tape (and leather upholstery for saddles). I’ve been following Mick’s work via his blog for some time now, so I have to declare that I was a fan of his work from the outset. I’ve long held the view that anything hand-made both looks and functions better than the machine-made equivalent and everything I’ve seen on the Busyman’s blog confirms this notion. The offer was there though to get some tape to me for review. My brief was simple, black tape with a red contrast, I was happy to leave the rest of the details in the hands of the craftsman, but based on our emails, I’m sure Mick could accommodate any whim to satisfy a customer. The final product arrived packaged like an exotic gift from the old world (perhaps London in the Victorian era). Leather tape is difficult to wrap so make sure you give the job to someone with plenty of experience. The Busyman recommends wetting the tape before wrapping the bars plus adding a little adhesive tape to guard against unravelling. I took a little longer to wrap the bars with this tape because the stitching highlights the smallest variations in the direction of the tape. The final result was worth the effort. My wife has seen all kinds of tape on my bars over the last 20 years but this was the first tape that has ever caught her eye. I’m reminded of a steering wheel from an exotic sports car every time I look at my handlebars now and perhaps that encourages the latent hoon in me, but there is a new pleasure in throttling the bars. This tape is best suited to riders that prefer thin tape and/or don’t require a lot of padding under their hands. I wear gloves while riding but my fingertips enjoy the supple feel of the leather. Most riders will find it hard to justify the expense, but this tape would have to be one of the most affordable bespoke products a cyclist can buy. Moreover, it provides a finishing touch that cannot be equalled by anything made by a machine.